It was another regular school day. I had just come from class to submit documents to the Student Media Office. There were other members of the different Student Media Groups hanging out at the common room. “How are you? How is your day going?” were the questions I was greeted with. I responded with a sigh and joked about how I was surprised at how my day wasn’t over yet. They laughed, and I mentioned how it was the fourth time I was asked by the same person about my day. “I just want to know how everyone’s day is progressing so far,” he said.
A few weeks later, I found myself sharing a couple of drinks with him after school. We were laughing at the “I hate small talks” comic from Young STAR. We exchanged stories about uncomfortable conversations and dragging first dates. “If you can’t answer a simple question about your day, how am I supposed to trust that I can talk to you about deep topics?” he emphasized. I agreed.
I know how a lot of people view small talk as a waste of time. It is often called meaningless as it is conversations with people who are merely acquaintances, people you see a lot but not often enough. Don’t get me wrong, I had a point in my life where I, too, resented having to engage in small talk. It’s awkward, but I would participate in it because I felt that keeping quiet would make things more awkward. Small talk can put you in situations that can make you tense, nervous, and embarrassed. I completely understand why some would say they aren’t fond of it.
With the nature of my job in this publication, I meet new people quite often. As a photographer, I would try to make interviewees more comfortable with me when I take their portraits for articles. It’s hard for people to pose for photos when they barely know the person taking them, so I try to joke around and see what we have in common. Portraits would turn to look more genuine, or at the very least, the interviewee can feel relaxed as I click away with my camera. As a Managing Editor, I meet with people from other organizations from time to time. I want to create good working relationships with their representatives. Aside from meeting each other eye to eye, I like establishing good bonds with them and treating them as if we are close friends. As one of the Senior Staffers, I ask newbies about their workload—both in academics and what their respective Editors have been assigning them to. We would talk about the weather and we would find ourselves stretching the topic up until we closed the office off.
Small talk can be dragging, I agree. But for some reason, I now find comfort in it. Sometimes people want to start small conversations because they genuinely want to get to know you, but they don’t have the luxury of time for the long, deep conversations. So they are left to consume you through the bits and pieces you share about your day, your thoughts on certain things. Sometimes people just want to express what’s on their mind. I’m okay with either. How else are we going to get to know a person if we refuse to start small conversations with them?
We can’t force ourselves to connect with people immediately. Small talk is tiptoeing to figure out what you both have in common, or if you value the same things. It can help you figure out if you enjoy hearing about each other’s thoughts, or simply having each other’s company.
Most of the meaningful relationships I have in my life started by engaging in small talk. I find it exciting because it feels like I’m watching a TV series through the little conversations that we have as we go along in life separately. The finale is when we sit down and talk endlessly because we are already comfortable enough with each other. It would help me put the pieces together to have you as a recurring character that I’d like to keep in my life.
We miss out on getting to know the beauty of other people because we refuse to engage in small conversations about the most random of things, even if it would only cost us a few minutes of our time.